A couple decides to separate or divorce for many reasons, but no matter what that reason is, it’s still often a hard choice to make. Ending a close relationship is a tough process, and many people wonder if they can get through a divorce together as friends.
Some circumstances will make that close to impossible. A high-conflict divorce case, for example, rarely results in feelings of friendship afterward; some former spouses may never want to see their former partner again. For parents, however, life after a divorce comes with the guarantee of some level of interaction and communication.
It might be too much to to ask some co-parents to stay friends after a divorce, but it may be possible to remain on friendly terms. Doing so makes co-parenting easier and leaves the door open to a more friendly relationship down the road. If you want to commit to staying as friendly as possible with your co-parent after a divorce, here’s what to remember.
Give It Some Time
Emotions are usually scattered after the end of a relationship. Sadness, regret, confusion and anger are all too common, and it can be tough to handle all of those feelings. That’s why taking time to work through your emotions is a crucial step that shouldn’t be overlooked after a divorce. Allow yourself time to grieve the end of the union. Speak to close family and friends for support, and be open about how you are coping. You may also want to talk to a third party, such as a therapist, for some impartial guidance.
Set Healthy Boundaries
When you end a relationship, you need to let go of the previous level of closeness you had with that person, and that also means giving them new space. Don’t pry into your co-parent’s personal life when it has nothing to do with your kids. Remove yourself from spaces that may cause you to spend time wondering about their personal life.
If you and your co-parent have mutual friends, speak to those friends and ask that they don’t plan events including both of you for a bit. Be careful about venting about the divorce to those mutual friends as well; setting boundaries after a divorce applies to more than your co-parent.
Consider the Future
You will cross many family milestones as your kids grow. Even when your kids are adults, you’ll still have a co-parenting relationship of sorts with the other parent. From graduations to grand kids, neither you nor the other parent will want to miss these special occasions. Keeping milestones positive will become much harder if you keep fighting with your former spouse, and you don’t want your children to ever have to worry about their parents fighting at these special times.
Rediscover Your Life
Once you’ve ended a relationship, you have a great opportunity to focus on your life and how you want to spend your time. The goals and needs you had while married might no longer apply, so it’s time to take a fresh look at your life and what’s truly important in it. Try some new experiences, meet new people, return to old passions you’ve lost–it’s time to explore and move on.
It can be tough to see a way to divorce as friends. However, when you think about how you can remain friendly with your co-parent after a divorce instead, the two of you can work together to build a solid parenting relationship that will benefit your children and make your co-parenting experience a lot more pleasant for the entire family now and down the line.